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French newspaper a first in the Maritimes

For the week of Monday, February 29, 2016.

On March 5, 1867, Israël Landry announced that he was creating a newspaper called Le Moniteur Acadien, the first French language newspaper in the Maritimes. It was intended to unite Acadians and give them a platform to discuss the issues they faced.

The prospectus sent out by Israël Landry on March 5, 1867
© Acadian Museum, l’Université de Moncton

Although Landry was born in Lower Canada (Quebec), he was passionate about the Acadian cause. Moving to Prince Edward Island in the early 1860s, Landry devoted much of his time to supporting Acadian culture. At this time, Acadians were still reasserting their presence following the end of their expulsion from the Maritimes in 1763. They were also coming to terms with the implications of Canada's recent confederation.

Under the banner “Our language, our religion, and our culture,” the first issue of Le Moniteur Acadien was published in Shediac, New Brunswick, on July 8, 1867. Focused primarily on the interests of Acadians, this weekly newspaper included announcements from various communities, and published articles on agriculture and current events, including schools and the construction of railways. The newspaper also reported on three Acadian conventions that took place in 1881, 1885, and 1890. These conventions worked to establish the Acadian flag, National Acadian Day, the Acadian patron saint, Mary, Mother of God, and their own national anthem, “Ave Maria Stella!"

Israël Landry, founder of Le Moniteur Acadien
© Image from Le Moniteur Acadien published for the newspaper's 25th anniversary, Shediac, 1892

In 1868, Landry left the newspaper to pursue a musical career as an organist. Norbert Lussier, a newspaper editor from Lower Canada, took over as editor until 1871, when Ferdinand Robidoux, his assistant, became editor and owner of the newspaper. Le Moniteur Acadien eventually ceased production in 1926. Fifty-eight years later, a new version of the newspaper was founded in Shediac, and is still available today!

Israël Landry and Ferdinand Robidoux were part of a group of literary figures called Men of Letters, along with Pascal Poirier, Placide Gaudet, and John Webster. The group was commemorated for having enriched cultural life in Canada, particularly for Acadians. The Ten Acadian Conventions (1881-1937), some of which were reported on by Le Moniteur Acadien, are a National Historic Event due to their role in establishing and asserting a national identity for the Acadian people.

To learn more about Acadians, please read: National Acadian Day, Acadian Odyssey, The Return of the Acadians, and Red, white and blue ... and a star too! in the This Week in History archives.

Follow us on Twitter @ParksCanada. See the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to learn more about National Historic Designations.

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